Title: Difficult Women
Author: Roxane Gay
Pub Date: January 3rd, 2017
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.
The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister’s marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
I’m a big fun of Roxane Gay writing. Her Bad Feminist is just perfect! This year I was waiting for her new book Hunger to come out, a collection of essays about body image. But the pub date for that was moved, and instead, we got Difficult Women, a collection of short stories. I’d prefer the other book, but this one is still very good.
The stories are thoughtful and beautiful. They all focus on various female characters, they are told from female and male perspective. Each story is very unique, and they all have this strange atmospheric haunting sadness to them. They tell stories of sexism, loneliness, abuse, racism, jealousy, revenge, betrayal, love. They are all beautiful. It is always hard for me to write about a collection of short stories, I don’t like to judge them
It is always hard for me to write about a collection of short stories, I don’t like to judge them separately. When I read a collection of short stories from one author, I expect to feel that all those stories have something in common, that there is something that connects those characters and events. I don’t like to be forced to finish one story, and then start a new one and readjust my mood completely. I need a smooth transition. This collection delivers it perfectly. If it wasn’t for the last two stories, I would give this book five stars. But the last two stories just lost me, I couldn’t focus on them, I couldn’t bring myself to care.